Is it fair to compare Parvathy’s Take off with Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai?

Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai, slated to release on December 22 is about a rescue operation that saved lives of Indian nurses working in Iraq.

bollywood Updated: Dec 20, 2017 10:26 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tiger Zinda Hai,Salman Khan,Katrina Kaif
Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai and Parvathy’s Take Off are both based on the same incident that took place in 2014.

Some stories hit you hard while some stay with you for not too long. In the case of films, very few manage to hit all the right spots and leave you stunned.

Malayalam film Take Off, starring Parvathy, Kunchacko Boban and Fahadh Faasil, is one such story. Inspired by true events that occurred in 2014, it is a fictional perspective about the lives of nurses who worked in one of the most dangerous war zones at the time — Iraq.

Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai, on the other hand, is an action-thriller directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, also based on the same incident.

Bhai plays a RAW agent who is set to rescue nurses from Iraq with the help of an ISI (read Pakistani) agent, Zoya, played by Katrina Kaif. After having watched Take Off, and having seen the trailer of Tiger Zinda Hai, it is unfair to compare something spectacular like the former to something that is sure to turn out to be a spectacle, which is the latter. Below are my reasons why Tiger Zinda Hai will come nowhere close to Take Off.

Star of the film

The story is the star of Take Off. It is centered around a pregnant nurse who is dealing with debt, is remarried and has to explain it all to her kid from the first marriage — while being stranded in a country where a brutal civil war is raging.

The film also highlights why the Indian nurses went to Iraq, besides the tough choices the Indian ambassador and his colleagues have to make in the wake of dealing with bureaucracy. It also shows the plight of victims who have lost limbs and have no way of returning to their homeland because they do not have their passports. Dealing with men who are trigger-happy is not something one can empathise with if not experienced personally. Take Off explains a complex issue with simple storytelling. Is Tiger Zinda Hai anywhere similar?

Real Life Events vs Hi-Octane Action Sequences

46 Indian nurses were captured by ISIS in 2014. The then-Indian ambassador Ajay Kumar, then-CM Oommen Chandy and minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj worked together to rescue the nurses.

Now, if we had to compare this to the onscreen translation, Take Off fits like a glove. The additional bit about the husband and the kid is not jarring but adds to the story. There is not one Indian official who raises a gun, let alone fire it. One must understand that a rescue operation is dealt with sensitivity. Gun-toting officials are not what abductees needed in this case. Sadly, that is what they get in Tiger Zinda Hai. If this were a real-life situation, I wouldn’t want to think of what happens to the nurses.

Nuanced writing vs melodrama

Speaking of nuances, to bring to life a war zone and the emotions that people feel when they see their loved ones victimised is not easy. Take Off was successful in bringing this on screen because of the care the writers took in portraying each character.

The portrayal of nurses, who have no idea why a war is raging, are desperate to earn, and get no help from the Iraqi government that initially ensured their safety, is done in a realistic manner. The fear, confusion is clearly visible. What we do not see, however, is a spy infiltrating to save these nurses. It is one Indian ambassador who, solely dependent on his sources, sets up the rescue operation and is then supported by the Indian government.

Tiger Zinda Hai, on the other hand, is a melodramatic movie about spies from India and Pakistan trying to save nurses stuck in Iraq. They are gun-wielding officers who, ironically enough, talk of peace. And then of course we hear dialogues like “Duniya ke sabse khatarnak terrorist organisation ke beech se apne nurses ko nikaalna is an impossible task. Karega kaun? (side note: Only Bhai can do it)”.

Performance vs fan following

The lead actors in Take Off (there is no love angle in this film) — Parvathy as nurse Sameera, Kunchacko Boban as her husband and Fahadh Faasil as the Indian Ambassador in Iraq — have done a stellar job. They draw you into their lives; they breathe life into the movie.

Parvathy even met one of the rescued nurses, which was shared during the credit roll. Even the little boy who plays Sameera’s son, Ibrahim would leave you impressed. Compare this to the star cast of Tiger Zinda Hai and all you are left with is the stars. The movie solely rides on the success of Ek Tha Tiger and Salman Khan. From his skiing to the way he removes his scarf, everything is filmed to milk his stardom.


Can you imagine a Bhai film without one instance where his fans get to whistle, clap and cheer? Hardly. So, why is Tiger Zinda Hai any different?

Why would you want to compare a movie aimed to entertain the masses with commercial elements, including a song called “Swag se Swagat”, with one that leaves audiences speechless while portraying real life instances? Take Off is a hard-hitting movie that gives viewers a true idea about how rescue missions take place in real life. An Indian ambassador who took responsibility for the lives of the stranded women, a businessman in Saudi Arabia and a cynical foreign minister form the core team of the rescue operations. Is that what Tiger Zinda Hai aims to portray? Highly unlikely.

PS: Is Katrina Kaif even needed in Tiger Zinda Hai, if not for the Swag Se Swagat song and the romantic one where her face is painted on snow?

The author tweets @Priyanka_S_MCC

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First Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:10 IST